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INT: Jessica Biel

09.07.2006

Playing Liz, an everyday school teacher who falls for Nicolas Cage’s psychic character, the lovely Jessica Biel seems a little more relaxed then usual, entering the room with a grace and elegance. She is playing a sort of damsel in distress type in NEXT, a very different Biel from the one recently seen kicking the tar out of vampires in BLADE: TRINITY and flying fast planes in STEALTH. With long curly brown hair and a very easygoing demeanor, the beautiful Biel sat down to talk about playing a less physical character this time around, working with the quirky Nic Cage and her desire to diversify as an actress.

Jessica Biel

Do you actually get to play the girl in this or are you still kicking ass?

No, I’m playing more of the girl in this.  I wouldn’t necessarily like to call her a damsel in distress, but she’s just kind of a normal person getting sucked up into this wild adventure.  Not really having a clue what’s going on and it really has nothing to do with her, except that this man (Nic Cage’s character) is looking for her and finds her and it kind of blows up in her face.

What attracted you to the role?

Well, I mean, I think number one was to work with Nic and Julianne, and with Lee.  That was the number one thing.  Anything that this group of people are doing you want to be involved in.  And I definitely wanted to do something that wasn’t necessarily kind of  tough and kind of hard core, what I’ve sort have been doing in the past.  So yeah, being the girl, being you know, I guess you call the damsel, a little bit different for me and fun and good and challenging.  So I’m trying to keep it switched up and not doing the same thing over and over again.

For a film like BLADE: TRINITY, where you had to be very physical in the role, did you have to sort of forget all that stuff to play the character in NEXT?

Yeah.  I didn’t have work out; I didn’t have to learn any special skills or anything like that.  I just really had to be a normal person, who’s a school teacher, this is what I know, I have a simple life and now I’m running from the cops and the feds and this guy’s saying he can see into the future.  I just have to really realistically play a woman who is just getting all this new information and getting thrown into this really kind of terrifying situation.  So yeah, I’m trying, I guess I’m trying not to run really cool (laughs), and then I don’t get to beat anybody up.  But I’ve been telling Lee, I’m like please, please put in some sort of…give me some more action!  I got to roll out of a car once, yay!  (laughs)

So would you say that being less of a physical character was harder?

It’s tougher, because I naturally would rather be dodging logs and you know, elbowing people and punching people, I just think that’s really fun, I find that really fun.  It was cool to do that in BLADE: TRINITY and it was cool to be really physical and tough in STEALTH.  So that’s what’s just a little bit harder, to be a little bit more feminine, a little bit softer, but it’s fun.  He’s (Nic) got to work a lot more, he’s got all the pressure on him, I just come in, I do my stuff and I get out of here (laughs), so it’s a little both ways.

Did you recently have a role in a period film?

I did.

Are you trying to diversify away from stereotype action roles?

I’m trying to diversify from any sort of stereotype whatsoever, definitely don’t want to be thought of as an action actor or just a period, or just a comedian, you know I’d like to really do everything, I don’t ever want to get stuck in a box, that’s just not fun at all.  But I did THE ILLUSIONIST, it just went to Sundance.  It’s directed by Neil Burger with Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti.  It’s a 1900’s romance mystery, magic movie; it’s got a lot of interesting elements.  It’s coming out in August.

In NEXT, how long did your and Nic’s characters know each other before the trouble ensues?

Not very long.  We meet and maybe two days later.  I mean we have this kind of wild, whirlwind romance.  I meet him at this diner and I’m giving him a ride somewhere and the road’s blocked, so we have to end up spending the night in this motel, I make him sleep in the car and all this stuff goes on.  But he’s really charming and I’m starting to fall in love with him really quickly.  But literally two days after we meet each other, I get stopped by Julianne and she says this guy’s crazy, be prepared we need you to do this and then he tells me everything and then we go on the run basically.  So it’s fast, really fast.

What is it about Nic’s character that makes you fall for him so fast?

He’s definitely quirky.  He’s got this kind of eccentric, wild personality, but he’s really, really like a sweet tender person.  He’s very open and I think definitely there’s a sense of innocence there, but he just kind of puts out there, like I believe in destiny, I’m your future, and she’s just like what are you talking about?  But he’s just kind of like this is it man, this is who I am and he’s charming and he’s kind of odd and he doesn’t really push anything on her and it’s just one of those natural things.  And I think also, because he’s pre-coged her, that’s the woman for him anyway, so all they had to do was meet each other and their personalities are just going to gel.  And that’s what happens, they instantly have a nice connection, a nice discourse, they’re just talking and connecting from the second that they get in this car, after he gets beat up.

Does he go to the diner because he knows your character is going to be there?

Yes, he sees a time, it’s like 9:08, he doesn’t know if that’s in the evening or if it’s in the morning and he knows it’s a different place.  So he goes there everyday, two times a day, waiting to see if I’m going to show up and then I finally show up.

What was it like to work with Nic?

It’s been amazing; it’s been so much fun really.  He is very similar to the character because he’s very kind of eccentric and cool.  And he’s always got these wild stories and he’s a total goofball, which I didn’t really expect, I really didn’t expect him to be so fun and silly and he really is that way. And he’s very serious about his work and he’s very intense when we’re working, but he’s improvising all the time and just making it fun. I mean we have this nice connection because we’re just playing around and we’re having a really, really good time.

Was it different working with an actor like Nic, who prides himself of creating a really original character?

It’s just been so thorough. You know, he’s so thorough in who he is as a character and what he wants to do with the character and how he would behave, and this and that.  Which has kind of made me kick it up a notch and say well okay, let me go a little bit deeper and try to find another layer of this person. We would start a dialogue about does this really make sense, can we believe that these two people are really falling in love in two days?  So it brought me up to another level, you know, I have to meet him up here, otherwise he was just going to take over and I was gonna be crap.  (laughs)  So I had to bump it up a little bit.

Can you talk a bit about working with Director Lee Tamahori?

Lee is really cool to work with because he’s really laid back; he makes the atmosphere on set just comfortable, which is really important.  And he’s totally cool to change anything at any moment, doesn’t feel right, let’s change it.  He’s not married to the script, he’s not married to any choice at all, he wants to improvise and he’s way more of an actor’s director then I ever thought.  The scenes that were doing in our cabin, where he’s telling me what’s going on and we’re falling in love and everything, really important to Lee, he wants to make them truthful and realistic and he takes the time to get what we need.

What’s been your favorite scene to shoot so far?

I think the scene where he actually tells me that he has this ability.  And he’s showing me on the television that he knows what’s coming, he knows what show is going to come on and he’s flipping the channels.  That was a challenging scene that was really cool cause it literally could have been a scene where we were just talking to each other, standing in the same place and it could have been this really static boring kind of a scene.  Nick had this idea to move up here and go to the bed and pretend that we were - cause the feds were watching us at that time – so he’s kind of pretending to kiss me and we’re like talking in all these whispers like we’re being spies and I’m going along with it.  And we get down on the floor, because he’s passing me this envelope, so we moved all over the room and really created a scene that was not on paper.  Really he brought it to life.

What’s coming up next?  Anything with BLADE, as there was talks at one point about a spin-off with you?

I don’t think that’s happening, I haven’t heard anything about that. I’m just not sure what’s going to happen next.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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